You don't have to be a sci-fi fan to love this book. It's a smoothe read and a page turner. It's easy to identify with main character Ender, which isYou don't have to be a sci-fi fan to love this book. It's a smoothe read and a page turner. It's easy to identify with main character Ender, which is what makes this book accessible to anyone....more
Flewelling should stop at two. She develops excellent stories over her first two books, and the third one becomes long, drawn out, and considerably leFlewelling should stop at two. She develops excellent stories over her first two books, and the third one becomes long, drawn out, and considerably less interesting. That being said, since I'm in love with the two main characters and their relationship, I can't help enjoying any book written about them. This one takes us into a somewhat stereotypical fantasy fairy land where the people are tall, fair, and long-lived. Despite that, we learn some interesting things about Aurenfaie culture, and Alec and Seregil have steamy gay sex here and there (which is never described in detail - you have to use your imagination)....more
Yes, I love this book, but I just have to say: could she choose a cheasier title? While the cover art and title indicate that you might be in for stanYes, I love this book, but I just have to say: could she choose a cheasier title? While the cover art and title indicate that you might be in for standard fantasy cheese whiz, if you can get past the embarassment of carrying this book around, it's actually quite a good read. You might have to like fantasy adventure to be able to get into this, but the characters and relationships are great and the story's pretty gripping. Plus every time you blink, there's another queer character - such a nice change from standard fantasy with pretty standard sexuality and archaic gender roles. It may be true to the historic period, but for the love of pete, it's fiction and fantasy - we can create whatever kind of society we want in our minds - and expand our horizons of how things could be....more
I have to say that I do miss the Outskirts in this book, but in Inner Lands town of Alemeth takes on it's own unique personality with many amusing momI have to say that I do miss the Outskirts in this book, but in Inner Lands town of Alemeth takes on it's own unique personality with many amusing moments characteristic of a small gossipy community. I also miss Bel, but Alemeth comes through again with a local young man called Steffie, a new and endearing character. Steffie's though process and articulation can be slow and awkward, but his mind is steady and persistent to compensate. I have a particular fondness for him because my thought process can sometimes match his. It's nice to see a character where slowness and intelligence can go together. All around, the characters and story are lovely, two aspects of Kirstein's writing that I've come very much to appreciate. This book continues Rowan's investigation at the Archives in Alemeth as Rowan conducts research and makes discoveries that add more pieces to an increasingly large puzzle. The book ends with an unexpected and truly amazing cultural study, again showing that this is not your standard fantasy series. Rowan's observations are amazing, as is Kristein's construction of a new culture....more
I'm not even sure where to begin expessing how amazing I find this series and this book in particular - my favorite of the series. This world has twoI'm not even sure where to begin expessing how amazing I find this series and this book in particular - my favorite of the series. This world has two main cultural and geographic divings. The Inner Lands folks live in the center of the know world, and the setting is somewhat standard fantasy. In the Outskirts live nomadic communities who live a simpler life in a harsher environment.
The Steerswomen (or occaisonally steersmen) are a key group in this series; a steerswoman Rowan is the main character. They are lifelong students who travel the world to observe and study it. If asked a question, steerswomen must tell the truth, and anyone to whom they ask a question must do the same or be put under the steerswoman ban. Under ban, no steerswoman will answer even the simplest of questions, which can be a serious consequence in a society where the steerswomen are the gatherers and spreaders of knowledge. In fact, their role in society is so highly valued that it is custom to give them food and shelter for free. I have a soft spot for Rowan because I identify with her thirst for knowledge, her analytical mind, her textbook-like manner of explanation when a question is asked, and her sometimes stilted social skills.
In this book, we travel to the Outskirts and are able to learn about the culture and ecology of these people. Any able-bodied person in a warrior, protecting the tribe from potential attack from other tibes. In injury, old age, or mental inability, outskirters become mertutials, the people who cook, herd goats, or otherwise care for the tribe. Both warriors and mertutials are equally respected. Some evenings are filled with songs, poetry, and tales from a people of surprising intellectual sophistication for having been stereotyped as barbarians. I love outskirter culture, and I particularly love Bel, main character number two, best friend to Rowan, who is both fierce warrior and singer/poet. I would love to be more like her but sadly end up more like her literal, bookish counterpart.
The best thing about this series is following Rowan's investigation. Though this is a fantasy setting, it is clear from early on that there is some very sophisticated technology on this world that the common folk are not allowed to understand. Anything high-tech is labeled as magic, a catch-all cagegory for anything whose causes are not understood. Rowan, of course, will not rest until she does understand, and it is amazing to watch her mind wrap around concepts that are commonplace to us but far beyond anything she's ever dealt with. I also enjoy learning in this book about the unique ecological systems of the outskirts, which end up being an important piece of the puzzle. I don't think you necessarily have to love fantasy to get into this series because unlike most fantasy it plays to a broader type of audience. It is these unusual qualties that make the book stand out for me and that push it into my top 10 category.
The one drawback: most charcters are straight, which would be fine if I weren't already drowning in straight fantasy and in a world with a hetereosexual and gender normal paradigm. But again, as with Flewelling's books, there is not excessive differentiation between women and men main characters, which is a redeaming quality....more